ICYMI: Sean Dominic Interview

Sean Dominic

Credit: CBS

After years on the move, Y&R’s Sean Dominic is ready to stay in one place

Sean Dominic was living in New York City when he landed the role of  Y&R’s hunky doc, Nate Hastings. “I was out here hitting the pilot season and Y&R was one of the last ones I had,” the actor recounts. “After I auditioned I said, ‘I’ve got a flight back to New York in a couple of days,’ and my agent was like, ‘Hold up!’ ”

That was because Dominic’s new shooting schedule was set to begin the following week, which meant there wasn’t time for him to officially relocate his life from one coast to the other. “I’m still moving,” he chuckles. “Most of my stuff is in New York!”

Pulling up stakes is nothing new to Dominic, who moved frequently through his childhood along with his two younger brothers, Andre and Julian, because their single mother, Gayrene Martin, was in the Air Force and shipped from one base to another. “We were moving constantly, and it was the norm, so I was always looking for the next adventure,” he shrugs. “Most of my closest friends were military kids, but either they would move or I would move. I didn’t know any different. That was the life.”

After six changes of address, the brood finally settled down in Delaware. “I went through all of high school in Delaware,” Dominic says. “My mom was actually supposed to get transferred to another state after my freshman or sophomore year but she fought to stay there.”

For the most part, Dominic was a model student. “I would flip-flop,” he recalls. “I’d make honor roll one year, but not make it the next year and then make it the next year. I don’t know what was going on with me, but I was an overall good student. I knew how to conduct myself in class and didn’t really have any issues.”

Although drawn to performing, that remained on the periphery as far as a career goal. “I sang in gospel choir, an R&B group and in high school chorus, but I was an occasional actor in a school play,” Dominic explains. “In my head, I was too cool to be one of those thespians. At that time I just thought they were cornballs, but every so often there would come a play I’d be in.”

There was also sports (“Soccer, baseball, basketball, football … I played every sport”) as well as the school band, where he played saxophone and trombone. “In sixth grade, my mother went to Seoul, Korea, so I lived with my grandparents for a year. I really wanted to play the drums but we couldn’t afford them. One of the instruments I could get was a trombone. Then the saxophone was the ‘it’ instrument, so I started playing that.”

After graduating from high school, Mama Martin retired from the Air Force and her eldest enrolled at Delaware State University, although his heart wasn’t in it. “I had no clue what I wanted to do,” Dominic admits. “I knew I wanted to be in some form of entertainment, but I had no clue about going to Juilliard and Yale and these other prestigious schools to become an actor. I knew nothing about it. At my college, you could major in theater, so I was like, ‘Maybe I’ll major
in mass communications while I’m taking theater classes.’ ” However, Dominic dropped out after two semesters. “I was like, ‘I’m wasting money in here because I don’t want to major in this.’ ”

Another opportunity eventually presented itself. “Someone would say, ‘Do you model? You should model,’ and I did a couple of fashion shows at the college,” Dominic shares. “I made a move to Atlanta, and there is where I began my modeling career. I loved it. For the most part it was amazing. Travel, making pretty good money and constantly meeting new people. It definitely broadens your horizons. I was mostly commercial print, and I did a lot of ad campaigns in South Africa.”

After three years in Georgia, Dominic and “a couple of model buddies” moved to New York City. “I was actually more focused on modeling because I was really enjoying it,” he notes. “I stuck with modeling probably longer than I wanted to. I also took acting classes but I never pursued it, which was weird. My first year there was rough ’cause I had a girlfriend in Atlanta. After that first year, the second year started looking better and I got into a groove.”

Despite not actively searching for any showbiz work, a small television part came Dominic’s way in 2009. “A friend said, ‘Hey, I know this director. Do you want to come out and audition?’ and that’s how I got ROYAL PAINS,” he relays. “I knew half the guys and it was fun. I also watched the lead guy and what his method was for acting. I didn’t see anything that made me think, ‘Oh, man! That’s so hard to do.’ He was just committed to what he was doing.”

Dominic ultimately walked away from modeling — “It just became a pain” —  and after working as a bartender at a Big Apple comedy club, his future began to find direction. “I became friends with the comedians, especially a lot of new comedians,” he remembers. “Michelle Wolf is a beast right now. She has a Netflix special and she used to write for LATE NIGHT WITH SETH MEYERS, but I remember seeing people like her just coming into the club and trying to get up onstage to do a check spot. A check spot is where you don’t get paid, you go up while the customers are paying their checks. A lot of times they’re not even paying attention [to the comedian] so it’s a tough spot to do. But seeing people like her and a bunch of other comics just coming in almost every night, I was like, ‘Man, they have this hustle.’ It was something that I needed to see.”

When Dominic unexpectedly lost his job, he finally stepped out of his comfort zone. “I just hit it from the ground up: web series, short films, just doing any and everything and not worrying about pay. I’ve always kept this quote in my head: Be so good they can’t ignore you. Even if I didn’t book something I auditioned for, I knew my name was getting spread out there a little bit. That’s how I kept it going. I pushed and I pushed and almost five years later I’m here in L.A. on Y&R!”

Now that he’s settling into life in Genoa City, Dominic is grappling with a surprising new challenge at the cavernous CBS Studio City, which Y&R calls home. “I’m just really trying to not get lost,” he laughs. “At first I was always getting off on the wrong floor — and it’s only three floors! Now I know my way around but every so often I’ll get off on the wrong floor, so I’m still learning.”